Switching surgeons


Following the rather grim hospital appointment at the end of September (https://rdramblings.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/stuck-between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place/) and the subsequent voyage into the realms of private healthcare in sheer desperation to have more time to obtain answers to my questions (https://rdramblings.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/money-cant-buy-me-love/), I set off for my NHS check-up appointment at Moorfields on Monday wondering exactly how things would pan out.  This was because, much to my amazement, the consultant I’d seen privately had suggested he take me on under the NHS as he has expertise in PVR (proliferative vitreoretinopathy, the complication which keeps causing my retina to redetach) but he also advised me to keep my next appointment with my original clinic and speak to the locum consultant about transferring across to him.  My mind was taken off this somewhat awkward impending conversation about swapping to a different surgeon by the fact that I’d been booked in for a low vision assessment first, so off we went to the Optometry section, where a very friendly but incredibly tiny lady who made me feel rather like the BFG proceeded to ask lots of questions before conducting what seemed to be essentially a very thorough sight test.  This was to assess whether there was anything else which could be done to help me cope with the limited vision in my right eye.

My sister is always shocked when she watches me struggling to make out the very top huge letter on the sight chart with my right eye.  I just feel sad but resigned when they tell me to read the top letter and then ask if I can make anything out on the next line down.  With the help of some of the lenses she slotted into a rather fetching spectacle-like frame, I could actually make out a little more when trying to read from a book containing type of varying sizes.  However, this became somewhat frustrating as I tried to chase the words around and guess what certain words could be from the vague shapes I could make out.  I discovered some months ago that if I look at something with my RD eye but focus off to the side, I can see the object I’m trying to make out more clearly.  So when looking at large type in this way, it appears far less fuzzy but I still can’t read it properly.  Apparently, this is because my brain is using the parts of my retina which are less damaged, and it’s likely that my central vision is damaged as the original detachment progressed beyond the macular.  The macular is the part of the retina (the size of a pin head) which is used for things like reading, recognising faces, and colour vision.  After much visual chasing of words and letters around and a couple of frustrated, “arrghh”s from me when I couldn’t read things, the optometrist reached the conclusion that I’m pretty much already doing everything I can to help myself in terms of adaptions on the computer etc, my glasses are as good as they can be for now, and basically my left eye is doing all the work.  She then wished me good luck and handed me my rather bulky medical file to take with me to the clinic appointment.

Now… my sister and I were rather excited to actually get our hands on THE FILE.  This is because a few months ago, we’d been sitting waiting for my consultant and I’d been trying to read some of the notes in it.  I say ‘trying’ because my eyes were dilated at the time and I couldn’t really make out very much at all.  Nevertheless, as the scary receptionist strode past, she clocked me with my nose buried in it, and it was firmly removed from me and placed on the other side of the room until the consultant arrived.  THE FILE has therefore acquired the status of a banned novel, with its scribbled notes and mysterious diagrams of my troublesome retina.  So of course, we naturally seized this unexpected opportunity with delight and proceeded to my clinic appointment the veeerry long way around the hospital, rapidly scanning through the pages as we went.  I did suggest nipping into the loo and secretly photographing each page in the manner of a Cold War spy, but we decided that my mobile ‘phone camera wasn’t really fit for purpose.  My sister also voiced her suspicion that the hospital authorities may have attached some kind of timer to the file, to track exactly how long it took us to get from Optometry (on the ground floor), to the clinic in the basement.  We arrived there about fifteen minutes later than we should have done, and reluctantly relinquished the file to the grumpy receptionist.  When she muttered, “Take a seat”, I asked in surprise whether she wanted to see my letter, as was usually the case, to which she somewhat disconcertingly replied, “I know who you are”.  We went and sat down, feeling even more like protagonists in an espionage thriller.

Fortunately the wait in clinic wasn’t too long at all this time, and we zipped through the familiar routine in less than a couple of hours.  Eventually, I got to speak to the locum consultant, who immediately told me that he had already spoken to the consultant I saw privately and was happy for me to be transferred over to him.  It seemed that further explanation wasn’t necessary, much to my relief, and he cracked on with the procedure of getting the referral letter sorted out before instructing me to go back to the receptionist to see if she was able to make me an appointment in the new clinic.  We returned to the front desk in some trepidation but the grumpy receptionist was remarkably amiable and helpfully made me an appointment for early December with the new consultant.  As we made our way out of the hospital, we agreed that it was highly likely that both the grumpy receptionist and the locum consultant were somewhat relieved to be seeing the back of a rather troublesome patient…

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